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Organization brings together biotech innovators and ill people worldwide

by Connie Karambelas
May 18, 2010

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BIO Ventures for Global Health

Five neglected tropical diseases taking a toll on millions in developing countries

Schistosomiasis: The infection is contracted through contact with contaminated water. A heavy infestation of the parasite can cause fever, chills, lymph node enlargement and liver and spleen enlargement. The infection causes anemia, impairs nutrition and stunts the growth of development of children.

Onchocerciasis: This parasitic disease is carried in water. By the time parasite moves through the body and finally dies, it causes blindness, skin rashes, lesions, intense itching and other conditions.

Lymphatic Flariasis: Also known as elephantiasis, this parasitic infection is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and causes swelling and disfiguring of the legs, breasts, and genital area.  It victimizes 120 million people worldwide. 

Chagas Disease: A parasitic infection that is most commonly found in Latin America and parts of the United States.  It is transmitted by insects and causes fever, swelling, and sometimes death and affects some 18 million people.

African Sleeping Sickness: This disease is transmitted with the bite of an infected tsetse fly.  It affects the nervous system, resulting in coma. It kills 100 percent of those who contract it when it is not diagnosed in time. 


Source: Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization

 Melinda Moree, 45, wants to treat neglected people suffering from neglected diseases.  

Armed with a Ph.D. in microbiology and a desire to help people around the world receive antibiotics and aid, Moree became the principal investigator on the Malaria Policy Project, and the director of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, before she took on her current post as the CEO of Washington, D.C.–based Bio Ventures for Global Health.

The company is a nonprofit organization that seeks to enlist biotechnology companies to apply their knowledge and expertise to about 16 neglected diseases that claim the lives of millions each year. Moree takes the time to talk about Bio Ventures for Global Health and the state of global health today.



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(Click on the numbers on the photo to listen to Moree’s answers to the questions on the left.)